Disc Binding for NaNoWriMo (and Lots More Stuff)

I am writing a very (VERY) bad thriller for National Novel Writing Month this year.  It's horrible.  It's terrible.  It's a hoot, so much fun!  I do not worry about intended readers, niches, clients, or editors because it's just for me.  

I'm also excited to report I will succeed in meeting my NaNoWriMo goal this year.  Which feels great.

Part of the fun has been handwriting parts of the book.  Most of the early word count is in cursive, words in black ink as I tested out various pens.  And paper.  It's amazing how varied paper quality can be!  

I've also dictated sections of this tome as well as running to my keyboard for a good chunk of the word count.  

Which means I've got a mess.  Chapters all over the place, on all sorts of stuff.  Add to that my maps, diagrams, flow charts -- things I want to keep with this thing when I go back to edit it.  

(Or at least read the whole thing from start to finish.  I'm telling you, it's BAD.  There's a tsunami, for one thing.  It seemed like a good idea at the time. ) 

Organizing My NaNoWriMo Draft and Resources

I've got chapters in spiral notebooks; in cheap DollarTree composition books; on college ruled loose leaf paper.  I've also got chunks of the book in printed pages from times I opted to dictate or sit there and type at the keyboard.

Then there are all the research things.  Maps, diagrams, flow charts, and more that I created to help me keep my various violent sub-plots organized.  As well as pretty images stored in Padlet and Pinterest and Evernote.

Where to keep all this stuff?  How to compile all my papers into a final first draft, in proper page order?  

My solution will not be an old-school three-ring binder.  Thought about it, but nope.

5 Reasons to Use Disc Binders

I will be using a disc binding process.  First, this be much more fun, especially creating my "book covers" and my fake accolades on the back (I'm imagining them now:  Mark Twain couldn't put my book down, Ian Fleming reports that my thriller is so real, it's scary, ...).

Bigger reason:  I can insert and remove pages as easily, and probably faster, than a metal ring binder. 

Best reason:  with a disc binding system, all sorts of papers can be held together and if you choose to do so, you can flip them together like a spiral notebook, and lay the whole thing flat down on its side, there on the table.  This cannot be done with a ring binder, as you know.

Maybe it's because I am left-handed, but it's a great advantage to me, the ability to have the draft lay flat on the table, and the ease with which I can flip it around.  

Another plus, as SeaLemon points out in her great instructional video below, I can choose to put those discs at the top or on the side.  My decision.

Uses for Disc Binders: More Than NaNoWriMo Drafts

I'm sharing this not only because other NaNoWriMo folk might like the idea, but because I think disc binding has lots more uses. 

I'm already thinking of all my recipe stuff that I've shoved into backs of cookbooks, index card boxes, etc.  And then there are all those notes-to-self I make and need to gather:  quotes and cool vocabulary in books that I'm reading, ideas for things, you know what I mean.

Am I the only one who finds stuff they have to KEEP in every Alexander McCall Smith book they read?  I just finished the latest in the Precious Ramotse series (the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) and there's so much wisdom in there.  Wow.  

You may find this a fun alternative to a ring binder, too. 

SeaLemon's Instructional Video on Disc Binding


NaNoWriMo: Getting Ready Tip No. 4

It's getting closer.  National Novel Writing Month starts in 16 days.  Yikes, yikes, yikes.

There's more and more stuff online to help you NOW.  Right now, as you get ready for NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo Preparation

Today's tip:  you are not an island.  Go out there and surf around for stuff that will help you get the deal done.

Here's a few places to hit:

1.  The Official National Novel Writing Month Resource Collection

NaNoWriMo has 35 links on its resources page as of today.  Things like "3 Steps to Rev Up Your Writing Momentum," and "Slaying Your First Draft Dragons."

2.  Writers' Digest

Here are 30 tips in one long article.  You don't have to buy their "prep kit."  No, you don't.  Some of this stuff is something that you might want to read if you are getting skeered about NaNoWriMo, as opposed to planning your outline or debating the color of your heroine's hair.

3.  Storist

This is another long article.  It's more about the task at hand than the psychological aspect of NaNoWriMo.  Read this for things like "Finding Your Key Scenes" and "Write a Two Page Outline," as well as "Pack for Your Expedition."

4.  Bustle

Here are your "10 Last-Minute NaNoWriMo Prep Tips."  Because you know that you want to read them, even if you are organized and prepared.

5.  Surly Muse

What if you haven't even begun to get ready?  Is it too late?  No, no, no.  Surly Muse is ready to help:  go read "The Hailstorm Approach: Prep for NaNoWriMo in Seven Days or Less."


Passive Voice and the Zombie Rule

For lawyers, writers, and researchers, passive voice can be the right choice.  Or not.

Edits of my work do come back with notations that I've used the passive voice here and there.  

I am not ashamed.  

Sometimes, it's okay.  That's right, folks.  Sometimes, passive voice gets to stay.  

Finding The Passive Voice

Before deciding when and if passive voice is acceptable, you need to find it.  There's a fun grammar hack for ferreting out passive voice in your writing.  

It's called the "zombie rule."

I'm not sure who invented this -- maybe rjohnson, USMC professor --- but it's fun and it's fast.  All you do is stick the phrase "by zombies" after the verb.  If it works, then it's passive voice.

The Zombie Rule: Examples

If the sentence makes sense with zombies, then YIKES you've got passive voice.  Examples:
  • Those dishes have already been washed [by zombies].  (Yep.)
  • The court ruled the statute was [by zombies] unconstitutional.  (Nope.)
  • The rumor didn't spread by itself - it was leaked [by zombies] in social media. (Yep.)
  • SCOTUS released [by zombies] its opinion today.  (Nope.)
For more on the Zombie Rule, check out Snarky Grammar Guide and Grammarly.

Passive Voice Has Its Place

There are times to use passive voice.  I'm not going to discuss them here.  Suffice to say, it's acceptable if it's adding value to your writing.  You know this.  

The University of Wisconsin finds passive voice works when you are:
  • creating an authoritative tone; or
  • emphasizing the action rather than the actor.
Purdue allows passive voice when it is "rhetorically effective." 

The American Bar Association has an article discussing passive voice in legal writing.

(Go to the above sites to read more detail and get more examples.)